It’s Calvinism Free-For-All: Off the Top of Your Head, Part 1

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ADMIN NOTE:  The comments are closed on this thread and a new one has opened here:

It’s Calvinism Free-For-All:  Off the Top of Your Head, Part 2 

The other record-breaking thread is getting really long with comments and so I thought it might be good to let Brian’s new comment have its own thread since it’s on one topic. I’m doing something I’ve never done before. We’re going to let this post be an open post on Calvinism. Many of the people I cover in abuse stories come from either Calvinist or Neo-Calvinist background. That’s not to say there are not abuse issues within Arminian churches (i.e., Calvary Chapel). I’ve mentioned before that I have friends who are Calvinist who certainly are not abusive. In fact, they  defend the oppressed/abused. We have to be careful about those kinds of blanket statements. But there may be some truth to the idea that some doctrines may be a better “breeding” ground for abusive-type leaders.

So, in light of Brian’s comment below, let’s go for it. And okay, I give up . . . go ahead and spell out that “C” word if you want – LOL  🙂

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Ed said: “Don’t call yourself a Calvinist if you don’t support everything about John Calvin.”

Ed, Calvinism and John Calvin are not synonymous, regardless of what you say.

Holding to the tenets of what is commonly called Calvinism does NOT equate to agreeing with everything Calvin did or taught.

I am curious…does anyone on here even know what they are talking about when they use the term “Calvinism”? I’d be interested to see some responses. What is Calvinism? You’ve all been railing against it, so I expect you can describe it without having to look it up. If you have to look it up, then why are you so against something about which you actually do not know the details?

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1,143 comments on “It’s Calvinism Free-For-All: Off the Top of Your Head, Part 1

  1. “If we are chosen before Adam sinned then why the need for a Savior? believe me they have very crafty and verbose explanations for this one. God determined the fall, you know.”

    This kind of thing makes my mind spin. Very good question, Lydia.

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  2. “No wonder they can’t open their blogs up to unmoderated discussion.”

    Bingo. I thought you would get it. (It took a while for me to cut through their thinking processes as I kept looking for truth in their explanations instead of admitting the chaos and confusion inherent in them.)

    It does not have to be so complicated but it is when you insist on the foundational premise of determinism/dualism. That requires some circular and contradictory thinking processes. It is cognitive dissonance in full bloom. One has to believe two totally contradictory characteristics about God and appeal to mystery.

    They could simply look to Jesus Christ.

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  3. “They could simply look to Jesus Christ.” Concerning Whom:

    He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
    a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
    He will not grow faint or be discouraged
    till he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his law. (Isaiah 42:2-4, ESV)

    While the followers of a murdering lawyer turned theologian and politician must scream from their pulpits and condemn those who would contest their will, as well as accuse, exclude, shame, slander, sue, and generally set out to destroy “the least of these” who happen to have noticed that these emperors are stark raving naked.

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  4. That requires some circular and contradictory thinking processes. It is cognitive dissonance in full bloom. One has to believe two totally contradictory characteristics about God and appeal to mystery.

    Circular and contradictory thinking processes as described in “Principles of Newspeak” by G.Orwell, specifically “doublethink”. When you describe Christ and the Kingdom of God in terms of THE totalitarian dystopia (itself a hyped-up version of Stalinist Russia and a not-so-hyped-up version of North Korea), something has gone seriously WRONG.

    And its advocates would resemble the totalitarian dictators and/or Party propaganda apparitchiki of Stalin’s Russia and/or North Korea:

    While the followers of a murdering lawyer turned theologian and politician must scream from their pulpits and condemn those who would contest their will, as well as accuse, exclude, shame, slander, sue, and generally set out to destroy “the least of these” who happen to have noticed that these emperors are stark raving naked.

    The System is Perfect; All Dissidents Must Be Liquidated.
    “Accuse, Exclude, Shame, Slander, Sue, Destroy!”
    Sounds a lot like “Penetrate! Colonize! Conquer! Plant!”

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  5. Lydia said, “This convo is not for Brian to change his mind but for every poor soul who has been taught the false premise of the determinist god.”

    I probably shouldn’t be reading this thread anymore. But I’m glad I clicked on it today, because you, Gary and Unicorn lifted me right up. This constant battle against confusion and despair is a tough one, but your words gave me strength, and helped me focus and think clearly again. I guess this is a weird comment, but I cannot thank you all enough for your input on this matter.

    And because I know how destructive this false teaching is to an abused person, how crushing it is, how it kills…if anyone ever reads this and needs to cry with someone who understands the pain and harm it causes, or needs hope and wants to talk to someone who actually cares and will not ignore you, please feel free to ask Julie Anne for my e-mail. You are not alone and I want to talk to you.

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  6. You are right this is very important to discuss and help others who may have been hurt by this distortion of God. I’m so glad you were vulnerable here.Oasis – – another idea is that this is a perfect item for discussion on the new SSB Forum.

    The forum is a very safe place to discuss this kind of topic which messes with those of us who have gone through abuse.

    (to join forum, contact spiritualsbforum@ gmail dot com)

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  7. Glad you said that, Julie Anne. I was afraid to bring it up there, didn’t want to annoy anyone. So good to know that such a safe place exists! 😀

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  8. [Julie Anne, please choose to read this web bit that I chose to send. LOL]

    Just wondering if Dr. Patterson and other dispy SBC leaders have ever Googled “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty,” “Pretrib Rapture Pride,” and “Pretrib Rapture Stealth.” The last item has enough passages from Acts etc. to blow the pretrib rapture all the way back to 1830 and to the doorstep in Scotland of Margaret Macdonald!

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  9. Oasis – Oh, the forum is intended to be the perfect place for any discussion like that. As we know there are Calvinists who have been abused and may not feel the same way we feel. Their beliefs does not negate our experience and the hell we have gone through. We MUST have a safe place to share that kind of thing and realize that everyone will process things differently – there is no right or wrong way – it just is.

    We will make sure that it stays safe at the forum. BTW, Fiat Pax is a very good moderator and has great understanding of processing things like this. I am a bit of a control freak (most abuse survivors are) and for me to let loose of the reigns to someone should say something about how much I trust him.

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  10. “this distortion of God”

    Perhaps the most arrogant and biased comment in all of this thread. Sadly, this is the epitome of the disengenousness that exists on this blog.

    *************

    Brian:

    I spoke from my heart about the extreme spiritual conflict I get when applying your view of Calvinism to my life/abuse and you call it the “most arrogant and biased comment in all of the thread?” You also call it the epitome of the disingenuousness on this blog? Whoa, Brian!

    I was speaking from my heart. I don’t see you even trying to understand the conflict some of us have had. There is no love of Christ in your rude comment. It really makes me sick that you could be so heartless. Can you not see how you just slammed a whole lot of people with that comment?

    If I had to fully believe what was told me about God and abuse, I would not be here to talk about it. It is that serious.

    For some reason this Calvinist interpretation of God makes sense to you and provides comfort to you. I don’t understand that, but whatever. But for me, it sends me on a spiral to spiritual and emotional death – and if I’m not grounded, could send me to physical death because I can’t make sense of the crazy.

    Is God not big enough to allow us both of differing opinions on Calvinism to be saved? I’m pretty sure we both believe that Christ came to earth to pay the penalty for our sins and that if we confess our sins and believe in Him, we both can be saved. Right? Is that not the bottom line? Why do you make Calvinism the bottom line? What/who exactly do you serve, God or Calvin doctrine?

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  11. “This distortion of God”

    Look Mr. Thornton, you need to understand that the god you worship is a false god. Were you to describe the attributes you attribute to God, without mentioning the being your were purporting to describe, it would be beyond clear that you were describing the devil himself. Now there is distortion for you. Your own arrogance here has been quite beyond the pale.

    I do find a certain satisfaction as I watch you flounder. Every time you point the finger of accusation at somebody, you have 3 more fingers pointing right back at yourself.

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  12. I have a confession to make. Were Mr. Thornton to treat my Wife, nay any woman, with the rudeness he just exhibited to Julie Anne, and were I present to do something about it, there is a good chance that somebody would end up having to call the law. Call me sexist, but my father and grandfather taught me that nobody who treats a woman badly deserves to be called a man.

    Mr. Thornton, are you a pastor?

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  13. ” I am a bit of a control freak (most abuse survivors are) …”

    There is another little bit of insight into what I am learning are the long term effects.

    Oasis, If I can lift you up any little bit, I praise God. Jesus Christ is HOPE for the oppressed and those cast down. May we all strive to “be” the kingdom right now for one another. To love justice, to have mercy for those overlooked or treated as nothings.

    I have not seen A Mom around in a while but she made a comment on another blog that really resonated with me. I edited out some names that were relevant to the convo there but not for here. She really nails an important distinction in how we view evil/wrong:

    “All sin is not the same. That’s a Calvinistic belief.

    Evil and wrong must never be put into the same category. They are different. And need to be dealt with differently. We do not treat them the same, ever, in any situation, right?

    There is a difference between evil and wrong. I was wrong at one time. You were wrong at one time. We are not evil. Our actions attest to that.

    There is to be NO discussion with evil. Ever. Evil needs to be stopped & answered with swift justice.

    Victims need our voices right now. They need help. They will not get it from evil doers. They are looking for answers, just like you and me (& I still am). Who is willing and able to help them? Any ideas?”

    There is to be no discussion with evil, Ever. I could not say it better myself. yet we see it excused and even defended all around us in the stratosphere of Celebrity Christian leadership. We have to stop rationalizing it because we like some of the gurus who also happen to be defending what are essentially evil actions done by their buddies. We have to stop rationalizing it because they have “correct doctrine”. Or the right connections. If they promote or defend those who have done evil, then they are enablers and we must say so. We must call it what it is: Evil. And they have no right to teach us anything. And we must tell them that.

    JA, I think your forum will be a big help and I so appreciate your attitude to keep it a safe place for people to share their stories, their fears their triumphs and seek community in love. May God bless the work of your heart and hands

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  14. Lydia,

    From what you have said above, I am suspecting our precious Brian is going to come back an try to use my strong reaction against me. Well, if he does, to the abyss with it. Brian is the one that needs to come forward an apology–and maybe appropriate restitution. I say Julie Anne is the one who gets to set the terms of restitution.

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  15. Brian may not be a pastor but sadly many YRR types are staff pastors and pastors in many churches now. And yes, it is exactly like this in person, too, if you EVER dare disagree or dissent with their doctrine. They are wonderful as long as you blindly agree.

    It is one reason I am so strong in my stance concerning this doctrine. I have seen the arrogance and cruelty up close and personal done to so many people over the last 8 years or so. I have seen the chaos and confusion it causes especially for teens and those who come from abuse. I hear story after story from people and not only churches but families split apart over the defense of this doctrine.

    They think they are defending God but they are blaspheming the very thing they profess to defend. “Love” is an action not a doctrine. We are to “be” the kingdom here and now. Christianity is all about love relationships with Christ and each other. That is it’s true “doctrine”.

    Gary, Treating women as “perpetually deceived” is all over that movement with their salvic “roles”. They have NO respect for women at all. And it shows. Piper is most ridiculous with it. After all that has been discussed on the threads here about people’s heinous experiences with childhood abuse and that is Brian’s response to our disagreement with a dead guy. I think that sums up what is the rotten fruit of this movement: Doctrine over person. And that, my friend, is a cult tactic.

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  16. “They have NO respect for women at all.” Well then, they are sniveling cowards, not men.

    And their fruits would tend to show that they are wholly owned by the powers of darkness, although I suppose I would do well to find strength to hope and pray that it might not be so. First, though, I think I will pray, I do pray, that they might do no more harm. Praise be that our loving Lord is rescuing so many. My hope and prayer is that those who have found their way here are but the tiniest tip of a very large iceberg.

    As to the charge of women being perpetually deceived, I say if you want somebody with knowledge, search among either men or women. If you want understanding and wisdom, start with women (with thanks to you for reminding me that Wisdom is female).

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  17. “Well, if he does, to the abyss with it. Brian is the one that needs to come forward an apology–and maybe appropriate restitution. ”

    to the abyss – lol

    Well, my experience with these types is that an apology is not and will not be forthcoming. They believe they are being loving in the way they confront their dissenters.

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  18. Julie Anne, it’s amazing, just knowing the forum is there. I hope people will feel free to start talking if they need/want to. Thank you for creating it. Fiat Pax sounds perfect for the job, good to know you trust him so much. I want to trust him, too.

    I understand the control freak bit. Kinda the opposite, myself…prone to anxiety, and therefore always trying to maintain a stress-free, carefree, relaxed/happy mood/environment. Maybe that just describes another form of control freak, haha…

    Lydia, thank you for reminding me that Jesus Christ is HOPE for the oppressed and those cast down. That is a beautiful, healing image! And I always love it when you talk about being the kingdom now, you really inspire me.

    A Mom, she is another heroine. I love her words that you quoted, and what you said after. “There is to be NO discussion with evil. Ever.” The love/support/help that you and others give on this blog and some others stuns me. Never realized there was so much of it out there. I love you all so much.

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  19. “They believe they are being loving in the way they confront their dissenters.”

    Well, then, I’m confident these cowardly accusers of the saints will be feeling the love when I fan their own oral flatulence back in their faces.

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  20. “Well, then, I’m confident these cowardly accusers of the saints will be feeling the love when I fan their own oral flatulence back in their faces.”

    Gary, I think I LOLed for a solid minute wishing I could conjure up the words to talk so sophisticatedly about farts as you 😉

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  21. Creatures are so governed by the secret counsel of God, that nothing happens but what he has knowingly and willingly decreed.
    John Calvin Institutes Book 1 chp 16

    The first man fell because the Lord deemed it meet that he should
    Institutes
    John Calvin, Institutes Book 3 chp 23

    God did from all eternity will or decree the commission of all the sins of the world, because his permissive will is his true and real will.
    Jonathan Edwards
    On the Decrees Chp 3 pg, 104

    This is the highest degree of faith-to believe that He is merciful, the very ONE who saves so few and damns so many. To believe that He is just, the One according to His own will, makes us necessarily damnable.
    Martin Luther- The Bondage of the Will

    But those who deny Our verses are deaf and dumb within darknesses. Whomever Allah wills – He leaves astray; and whomever He wills – He puts him on a straight path.
    Quran 6:39

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  22. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. (1 Peter 2:16, ESV)

    I am free to participate in a church congregation of my choice, or none at all. If I choose to participate in a congregation wherein it is preached that God is the sovereign author of all that is and all that happens, am I not contributing to the cover-up of a doctrine that blasphemously makes God the author of evil?

    Can one simultaneously live as a servant of God and as a servant of men? No, we cannot serve two masters. While I will endeavor to give honor to whom honor is due, I will not submit to the mastery of “pastors” or “elders.” Rather, I will endeavor to turn only to the Shepherd and Overseer of my soul. 1 Peter 2:25.

    To the abyss with any doctrine that would blaspheme the one true and Loving God. To the eternal pit with any suggestion or demand that we yield our obedience to any pastor, elder or overseer, for we cannot serve both man and God.

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  23. Gary said, “… am I not contributing to the cover-up of a doctrine that blasphemously makes God the author of evil?”

    A Calvinist at another blog today or last night, (who sometimes posts here), says that Calvinism does not teach that God is the author of evil.

    IMO, it seems that Calvinism viewpoints logically leads there, though. And on that score, even some Calvinists still get upset.

    I just found a blog today where the Cal started it by saying something like, “People don’t start out arguing against Cal proper but where they say it logically leads.”

    My mind boggles that guys like that don’t see that as a problem.

    If your view of God/ Scripture can lead you down a path where it can be said God is the author of evil, and other views that are distasteful to most, wouldn’t that cause you to pause and reconsider?

    It’s also interesting to see the number of Cals who try to distinguish between “regular” Cal and Hyper Calvinism. I think it’s a semantics game.

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  24. I think what has happened is a straw man of free will was set up by Augustine (dualism/determinism of his gnostic background) and Calvin systematized it. If we have free will to choose good or evil then it follows to them that God is not in control. Why? Because they start with dualism where everything material is evil (including us) and only spiritual good. (Greek Philosophy) The gods “determine” everything and are the only good. That is why arguing proof texts does NO GOOD. It is a waste of time because they read every word with dualism/determinism into the text. That is what was so obvious in that testimony Shannon shared of the woman talking about how she got sucked into and how hard it was to get out of it.

    This is why Calvinism ebbs and flows throughout history. People figure it out and it is so damning they fall away then what is left turns softer then it resurges again. Remember the descendants of the Puritans for the most part became Unitarians. The PCAUSA is into social justice.

    As to creation, I do not read anywhere that God WANTED that sort of control over His creation. In fact, we see God GIVING the humans the control over the creation. God wanted relationship with His human creation. Not puppets.To be in relationship with Him. I think we see this played out in the Genesis account. A true relationship of love is not coercion or decreetal.

    They do not see how their doctrine logically leads to making God more like Satan! With is secret and revealed wills. With His choosing some for damnation and others for paradise. It is Allah. And there are very nice Calvinists who would not hurt a fly. And there are nice Muslims who would not hurt a fly. And there are Free will folks who murder.

    With God decreeing everything and controlling molecules there is little left for us to do as the kingdom here and now. And we are seeing the fruit of that.

    Freely giving us free will does not mean God does not have Sovereignty. It makes Him MORE Sovereign. He is secure in Himself and even intervenes for us at times. We see parents do this all the time with teens. Let them suffer the consequences for their behavior they know is wrong even though the parent could intervene. What is different about Calvinism is that it is basically saying the parent decreed the bad behavior. If not, it means the parent was not in control. That is basically what they are saying even though they claim there is no problem saying there is Free Will and Decrees at the same time.

    At some point, we have to deal with evil in our midst…we have to grow up. We have to say, that is wrong and you are out. But guess who is stopping us? The institutional church and para church organizations. The church says, Oh sinners sin. Expect it because we have defined sin as your very existence. They show up in court begging the judge for leniency because the pervert repented. They hide molestations and then call it gossip to discuss it. They use deception and mental beatings on their followers to get more money out of them. They have a “form” (Plato!!!) of godliness but no power of the Holy Spirit. No substance. It is a front…an image game and we play right into it. We love our gurus.

    We are not exactly a great example of salt and light. We love to hide our evil too much. Just mention Calvin’s Geneva to a historically educated agnostic and see what sort of response you get. The only thing missing is state power.

    I do not think Calvinists really understand their own doctrine. And that comes from YEARS of them telling me I cannot understand it and am misrepresenting them. Well, I have studied it from every angle for about 7 or so years now and I can tell you it is nothing but chaos, confusion and damnation to the soul. You have to live in a cognitive dissonance and appeal to mystery while believing in a God who has a secret will!

    But to say this every Calvinist reading it will think I hate them. That is how they are taught to think. Yet, they could trust me with their most valuable possessions….because I believe in truth, justice, mercy….doing right and striving for righteousness. I think we are not only commanded for that but are equipped if we so desire. I think God loves it when we come to this realization. Does anyone think that those people following Jesus around thought, “Oh, I could never be like Him”? Or do you think they thought, I want to be like Him? He was not some mushy wishy washy God-human. He told the religious leaders of the day like it was and showed major mercy and compassion to the oppressed.

    So we must go and do likewise!

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  25. Lydia, I agree with about everything you said in the post right above mine here. I do find that while many Calvinists claim we (who don’t believe in Calvinism) don’t understand it or misrepresent it that maybe they’re the ones who don’t understand it.

    As I said to the Calvinists at the other blog, one of whom was saying, “but in all my years, I’ve never known a Calvinist to act like thus and so or to teach or believe blah blah blah,” maybe they personally do not act like that or believe in X, but I’ve seen other Cals who do.

    Even in the debates in the two or three Cal threads on this blog, I’ve seen one Cal deny that Cals believe “X” but another one will a mere three or four posts later agree with X and defend it. I’ve seen this happen on other forums, blogs and sites over the years.

    There’s also the tricky way they define words and topics. “Free will” doesn’t mean the same thing to a Cal as it does to a Non Cal. They will say they believe in it, but they only define it as people are only free to sin and to choose sin, and mankind, left to their own devices will only chose only to sin. That is not quite how I or the average person understand “free will.”

    It reminds me of the apologetics sites I used to visit that would caution not to agree with everything a Mormon or JW said upfront, since such groups do not define “grace” and other terms that way most Christians do. I find that true with Calvinists.

    Anyway, that some Cals cannot agree with each other on Calvinism, or that they have the tendency to define terms differently from Non Cals, and that even if you quote famous Calvinist quotes at them to make a point, they will still say “you are misrepresenting Calvinism,” makes talking with them very frustrating and tiring.

    That’s why I hardly ever get too involved in these debates. I might dabble a bit here and there, but I mostly just stay out, but I enjoy reading the back and forth by others.

    Lydia said, “Freely giving us free will does not mean God does not have Sovereignty. It makes Him MORE Sovereign. He is secure in Himself and even intervenes for us at times. ”

    I agree, and I think that view grants God even more glory. If there’s one topic Calvinists like to go on about as much as Sovereignty, it’s probably the ‘glory of God.’ I honestly don’t find the Calvinist view as bringing Him much glory.

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  26. missdaisy,

    The “hyper Calvinist” thing has become a big deal in the SBC so many are trying to understand it. And I am taking the YRR pastor blogs at their word in describing what they are doing and why it is NOT hyper Calvinism. Here is how it works. The YRR example is that a hyper Calvinist does affirm the 5pts but does not evangelize. Period. That is the big difference. However, the YRR are big time into evangelizing, therefore they cannot be hyper Calvinists.

    BUT, that is a misnomer because they evangelize their brand of Calvin.. Their “evangelism” basically consists of planting churches where there are plenty of churches already and usually in decent neighborhoods. You can check this out with examples from Acts 29, NAMB, Sojourn and SGM.

    In the places they have planted churches in lower income areas, they have the suburban folks driving in. They have plenty of money thrown at them for the planting of these churches from institutions like the SBC. That is considered “evangelizing” and “missions” these days. Many times these church plants are started with 5 or 6 staff pastors all paid full time. They are seriously looking to build more Calvinist churches. And this is because it was becoming too hard to make non Calvinist churches into Calvinist ones as “Quiet Revolution” taught because too many were catching on.

    In other words, they ARE hyper Calvinists. As are Piper, Sproul Sr, Mohler, Dever, etc, etc, etc. And believe it or not, doctrine is not nearly as important to the men above as it is to their followers. That is the irony! What is important to the men I mention is influence, power, a stage, etc.

    To give you an example. When some fleeced donors and those outraged at his stealing Kistlers business at Ligonier sought to take their case before the ecclesiastical court of the Presbyterians that ordained Sproul, they found out to their astonishment that Sproul’s church, St Andrews was independent! He answered to NO ONE. But he had led folks who donated to Ligonier believe for years he was accountable to them. (By the way, Ligon Duncan’s brother James was running Ligonier in those days. It IS a family affair with these guys)

    But hey, no big deal as long as he has correct doctrine.

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  27. miss daisy,

    The biggest hurdle is the redefining of concepts and words. They do not have the same definition for “grace”(for some) or even atonement, Justification, sanctification, etc. It is a DIFFERENT RELIGION.. Even the “Gospel” is redefined because it is NOT potentially Good News for all. Total depravity means total inability. Sin is redefined to mean your very existence is sin. The P, if you really study it in depth basically leads you to see that they won’t know if they “persevered” until the end!!! Imputation of righteousness is a form of “Jesus obeyed for you on the cross because you remain a vile sinner”. And so on. That is why I refuse to play the machine gun proof text game.

    We are basically speaking different languages and talking about a different God. Not sure unity is possible unless we are willing to say it does not matter. And as far as rights are concerned, it doesn’t. My goal is to help those who are struggling with the teaching see that is NOT the One True God of Abraham. Especially teens and those who have been abused. The Calvin god is damning to their souls.

    Those who believe it strongly, that is ok with me, too. I just wish they would stop calling me a heretic and keep trying to take over churches rebuking everyone in sight. Or trying to make me shut up with why I have a problem with it. I am not out to hurt their feelings. If Calvinism is so loving a doctrine that should not be possible anyway. But trying to explain a god with secret wills who controls molecules but then doesn’t is not something everyone can agree with. And rightly so.

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  28. BTW, Even Roger Olson, the professed Arminian, called the SBC Trad statement (to respond to the growing Calvinism in the SBC) “Pelagian” as in heresy. He is not exactly the go to guy to understand all of this stuff. Arminius was Calvin lite, btw, in my opinion.

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogereolson/2012/06/thoughts-about-%e2%80%9ca-statement-of-the-traditional-southern-baptist-understanding-of-gods-plan-of-salvation-%e2%80%9d/

    He splits as many hairs as the Calvinists do when it comes to free will, responding to the Gospel, etc.

    What folks have to realize about guys like Olson and others who make their living in ministry or theology is that they really have to be careful. That is why I love to hear opinions of those who have really studied but have no allegiance or accountability to any ministry, university or para church organization. There is no money or peer pressure involved. I like Olson and find him interesting to read sometimes but don’t think he is the go to guy on the subject.

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  29. Lydia, Ed, anybody else (except Brian),

    Brian is not the first who has come to Julianne’s blog promoting their hyper-deterministic views with a single minded resolve to only be heard, never listen, and generally enforce their doctrine, come hell or high water. Brian is actually to be complimented in that he was has not been so quick to resort to personal insults, as was the regular M.O. of another disciple of the TULIP pentagram. However, in the end, though he was quick to scream at the slightest hint of perceived insult to himself, he just could not resist the temptation to beat up on our hostess–and that after she had taken the great risk of sharing, with great vulnerability, from the depths of her heart.

    These people, including Brian, are intent on controlling the conversation, demanding answers to questions while largely ignoring the questions put to them, and basically presenting themselves as being the final incontestable arbiters of all truth for all time. Only their ideas count. It is almost as though they expect God Himself to sit up and take notice.

    There does not appear to be any indication that they have even the slightest ability to meet people as people, to feel what the other person feels, to join in their grief, to enter into even the smallest degree of their pain. They will presume on our Hostess’s open invitation to participate without restriction (well, she eventually draws the line at ongoing personal attacks), while they themselves are very controlling of who can say what on their own blogs.

    Now, I know that there are people who are just simply intent on having their own way. Some of them seem to feed off of being able to dominate other people’s wills. However, I am thinking that there may be more than this when it comes to this crusade to impose–yes, impose–the doctrines of the murder John Calvin.

    Am I right? Is it something more than just the urge to have one’s way, to dominate another human’s conscience and will? If so, what might it be? I am at a loss.

    Like

  30. Gary said, “If those of you who are still responding to Brian are totally depraved, why is he playing the fool by continuing to expend time and effort trying to lead you into the glorious truth of your supposed not-worth-fecal-matter value?”

    When I was looking into Calvinism about ten years ago and thinking about becoming one, I started reading their sites and forums, and I e mailed them to ask them more to learn about Calvinism.

    One thing many of them are not clear on is “who are the elect,” and I don’t mean a dictionary definition.

    I would ask, “How do I become part of the elect? Am I already one of the elect? Are you the elect?”

    The answers I got ranged from, “God chooses the elect” (and I would reply, “That still does not answer my question. How do you know if you are the elect or not?”), to, “Golly gee, I dunno, but sure hope I am to,” “well, I’m pretty sure me and my family are, but I don’t think most others are.”

    Please remember I was not arguing with these guys. I was sincerely trying to understand their views/Calvinism and to find out how I could be assured if I was “the elect” because I did not want to go to Hell when I died and to find out if Cal churches would be a good place to attend.

    I was not e- mailing them these questions to play games, be a pest, or to challenge them. These were people who had web pages devoted to Calvinism, defending it, saying they were Cal themselves. I still got vague answers or odd answers (such as “the fact you are concerned at all about any of this is proof you are the elect”), or one Cal would conflict with the answer another previous Cal had given me.

    The bottom line is, they don’t really know if they are the elect or not. They don’t seem to know who else is or is not the elect.

    They don’t know how, with certainty, a person can be saved from Hell, or who can be, which is so sad, because I think the Bible is pretty clear that trusting in Christ, regardless of who you are, takes care of your eternal destination.

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  31. lydiasellerofpurple,

    You had said:
    “Imputation of righteousness is a form of “Jesus obeyed for you on the cross because you remain a vile sinner”.”

    I’ve heard that one before, a few times from Calvinists.

    What they fail to realize, that is totally and completely false. He was lamb without spot/blemish to take our sins upon him, yes. But that is only 1/2 of the story. The other half is being missed or ignored.

    He was judged for our sins, and was sentenced to “death”. It is appointed unto man once to die, THEN (after he died) judgment. (Hebrews 9:27). Death is a place, in spiritual terms, for Hell Fire. Judgment is after death, not before death. If we think that his suffering was ONLY on the cross, we are wrong.

    Jesus did NOT obey FOR us. He obeyed to be punished in our stead. He was the scapegoat, aka, the transfer of sins from us to him.

    Do they not mourn the punishment that Jesus took for them? Did Jesus deserve what he got? Do they ever shed a tear for each of the stripes, the crown of thorns, the holes in his hands and feet, the sword in his side, the mocking, spitting, etc.

    But that punishment was just the beginning. There was more to follow after he died.

    Ed

    Like

  32. “Am I right? Is it something more than just the urge to have one’s way, to dominate another human’s conscience and will? If so, what might it be? I am at a loss.”

    When you read Luther, Calvin (especially his letters), the Puritans some of the discourses from the councils, etc, etc etc. You see exactly where it comes from. Want to be vulgar? Luther is your man. Want to be a despotic intellectual? Try Calvin, and so on. They are only emulating their gurus. It is tradition which is why it dies out or goes liberal then you will see resurgences over history.

    Have you ever read anything concerning Ann Hutchinson’s trail before the Puritan tribunal? They were despots! Read some of the stuff said and done to Roger Williams. Some of the leaders were so deceitful it is hard to think of them as believers!

    Like

  33. “They are only emulating their gurus.” Yes, there must be an element of learned behavior. And maybe it isn’t just copying their guru idols. Maybe there is a desire, possibly even an unconscious desire, to win the acceptance, admiration and approval of, not only their superiors, but also their peers. It is so easy for all of us to seek love or love substitutes from all the wrong places. Plus, it can all become such a competition for bragging rights.

    Maybe also this will to dominate, this will to conquer, this will to impose one’s views, comes with having joined a cause. It is akin to revolutionary fervor. This isn’t something that is unique to the movement associated with YRR/NC/TGC/T4G etc., but it becomes a factor. Trouble is, revolutionary fervor is a poor substitute for loving others as our Lord and God loves us.

    If they could just figure out how to live in love, then it would be incumbent upon me to sit down and listen, and stand up and observe.

    Like

  34. “Well, if God wrote the play, that makes him the author. If he ordained it, he authored it. For some reason, they don’t see the connection.”

    Yeah, sure…not the author of evil, some say…yet, the “orchestrator” of every second of every evil event, the “designer” of every second of every evil event, and the one either permitting or choosing not to prevent every second of every evil event, because every single second of every evil event is of God and happens according to plan, and nothing that happens is a mistake and should not have happened. Cue twisting of Romans 8:28 to apply to tragedies in life instead of our personal struggle with sin.

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  35. The 4 C’s of Calvinism’s reform movement:

    Cling to the Comfort of Calvinistic Control

    Not self-control. There is no such thing as self-control, the theory goes. Self-control (free-will) is a lie in Calvinism. You must pray & wait for God to change you. But it is even better to say with pride (as Brian’s teacher of “Jesus + nothing = everything” says) that you can’t remember one good thing you’ve ever done, which they says glorifies God. Doing anything good yourself takes away from God’s glory, the reformed believe. Better to stay broken at the foot of the cross in your sinful state for the rest of your life. Make sure your kids know never to leave the foot of the cross & never do one good thing in their life either.

    Regardless of what you do, think or believe about Calvinism & reformed theology, this is what’s being preached. Audio sermon it up for yourself. And listen closely.

    In the meantime, their conferences, books, churches are raking it in.

    I’ve come to my senses thank the Lord. Guess I just couldn’t buy I don’t have self-control. I make choices, countless ones, each day.

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  36. BTW, I could have said 5 C’s of Calvinism & added another C for Cult.

    The reason is whenever you teach or preach or deny individual self-control, while at the same time require actionable control of a few over many, you are exercising cult-like control & influence.

    In these churches, control & influence is utilized through what’s called “church discipline”, shunning, blackmail, etc. It is not a gospel of individual empowerment to do good & be set free through Christ, it’s a gospel of authority chain of control.

    Which is why the main focus is on who’s reporting to whom, as Brian and many Calvinists can’t help but declare it out the gate & then run you around the race track with. Miano has to declare to everyone who he’s reporting to right now. The reason why you must be a member at a church? You need to report to another somebody in control who has AUTHORITY OVER you. Sound like the body of Christ where all are equally important?

    I’m sure there are more cult-like controlling behaviors / actions to add to this list.

    All you have to do is watch, listen & read closely.

    Like

  37. “The reason is whenever you teach or preach or deny individual self-control, while at the same time require actionable control of a few over many, you are exercising cult-like control & influence.”

    A friend of mine, whose church had become infiltrated with Calvinist thinking, once mused on how these NC/YRR Calvinists can be Americans at the same time since our entire construct is based upon individual “self” determinism. I think it is an interesting question to ponder. Is it the contradiction thing again?

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  38. From here:
    http://peterlumpkins.typepad.com/peter_lumpkins/2013/09/calvinists-and-pelagius-agreed-on-the-status-of-infants-dying-in-infancy-.html

    “My deepest sympathies for your loss, Aaron. A decade ago, my wife and I had three miscarriages in a 2+ year span, one of which was 5 months along. That was painful beyond words.

    I cannot comfort your loss, but I can say this with 100% confidence. Your babies are safe in Jesus’ arms. Why? Because the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ does not need to be convinced to love them. They have always been his, even in the short period of time when they were yours. They are as much his as you are and as I am.

    Now, to the larger conversation in general. The fact that we are even having the discussion about infant damnation means it is sackcloth and ashes time. We’ve completely lost the vision of the Father of the Son. He has been replaced by the terrible, aloof idol of the pagan philosophers and of our darkened hearts. This idol is the Platonic, Aristotelian, Manichean, nominalist, voluntarist deus absconditus hiding behind the curtain like the Wizard of Oz. He is so untrustworthy and disdainful of human beings that not even the unborn are safe from his violent fury. And what is worse, we have taken a smattering of Bible verses and baptized this idol and put it into the temple of our hearts – an idol for whom we can never do enough, be good enough, or ever know beyond a shadow of a doubt that he gives a gnat’s nose about us.

    How do I know this is an idol? Because he doesn’t look a thing like Jesus. And Jesus said if you have seen me, you have seen the Father. The idol is not the Father. It’s time to take a hammer to it as Hezekiah did the idols in his day.”

    All I can say is Amen to this comment.

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  39. lydiasellerofpurple,

    I am certainly not a fan of Peter Lumpkins, and I am at odds with why he is all for the Calvinists and Southern Baptists joining forces together.

    I am in total disagreement with his mindset that babies need to be “saved”, as I do not believe that they are lost to begin with. There is a spiritual death date for humans. We are not born spiritually dead, we die a spiritual death, based on knowledge of good and evil.

    Peter takes the stand of the belief in original sin, if he believes that babies need a savior. Although he tries to distance himself from it by explaining that they do not hold the guilt of Adams sin, he contradicts himself by saying that babies need a savior.

    But, what I find with Peter, is that he is more interested in philosophy of beliefs more than quoting scripture to back up his statements.

    Besides, there is division in that church, and God frowns on division. Not only that, it’s been about 2000 years, and they are still trying to figure out the status of babies? They are still debating this after all this time? How come some of these so called experts haven’t figured this out yet? Why do some say that the Bible is silent on this issue? Why do I see more than they do, and I don’t have a college degree in theology.

    Ed

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  40. Ed,

    Jim G wrote the comment. He is not Peter. He is a theology professor, though and and a great resource on Augustine and the early councils. Peter is a good resource for Baptist history–does not mean you have to agree with everything he says.

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  41. Ed, I also think there needs to be a huge discussion on “original sin”. Most folks have no idea this concept came from Augustine and he defined it for us. It is so ingrained most people even learned theologians are loathe not to use because of the outcry.

    I doubt you and I are even on the same page but I lean toward “original death” myself and sin as something that attaches itself to us like a tick as we grow in knowledge. But I am not dogmatic on it like I am about Calvin’s cruel arbitrary god who gets glory from throwing infants into hell.

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  42. Arce on TWW said:
    To me the difference is in two definitions of sovereignty. Sovereignty does not mean that what you chose happens, it is the ability to make decisions about consequences. So in the U.S., the Congress has sovereignty to make laws, the President and his appointees have the sovereignty to enforce laws, and the courts the sovereignty to decide whether the laws have been broken and to impose penalties, and in civil cases, award reparations. But none have the sovereignty to make choices on behalf of the members of the public to follow or not follow the law.
    To me, the sovereignty of God is like the sovereignty of all three branches of government. But we retain the freedom to choose whether to follow God’s laws or not. The most important commands came from Jesus, which I paraphrase as: Love the Lord God with all of your being and love everyone you encounter as you love yourself. So in everyday activities we make choices that have consequences, and, while some of those consequences are the natural result of our choice (due to the laws of nature that God, in his sovereignty, put in place to begin with) and some are under God’s sovereignly created law, and thus, under his sovereign power to decide. One of those laws is that we are to believe in, love and follow Jesus, and choosing not to do so carries the ultimate penalty.
    All of this is why I do not believe that young children and those who are mentally incapable of making the choice to follow Jesus, are doomed. They do not have the ability to make the choice to love and follow Jesus. As in our legal system, they are not held responsible for what they cannot do.

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  43. Lydia,

    No, I was discussing Peter, tho.  He is the author of the blog.  Ya, I was aware that the post that you quoted was not Peter. 

    But what upsets me about original sin, is that it is widely accepted.  And for those who do not believe in it, they have no scripture to back their opinions up.  It’s one thing to say “I don’t believe that babies go to hell”, but it’s another thing to PROVE IT. 

    I believe that I have proven it.  No knowledge, no sin is imputed, no spiritual death, until WE EAT of the tree of KNOWLEDGE of Good and Evil. 

    Why can’t these people just break out their Bibles discussing this issue, instead of telling us that Joe Blow wrote a book; Joe Schmuckitelly said blah, blah; Pope so and so wrote blah, Calvin said this, Augustine said that.  Who the blank blank gives a rip what those people said? 

    I know…Peter gives a rip.  But me, I only care what the Logos said.

    Ed

    ________________________________

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  44. Lydia,

    A long while ago, I knew that I needed to look at scripture using spiritual lenses, and just for a moment ditch the carnal exegesis, of a man (Job) in despair. There is so much that Job states about various spiritual topics, that most people don’t even see. Psalms is the same way, and when we get right down to it, the whole Bible. But what I see of the Calvinists, they talk a ton about exegesis, but their exegesis is all in the realm of carnal interpretations. There is a wealth of spiritual information in Job. Treasure galore.

    Ed

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  45. Lydia,

    One more thing about spiritual interpretations.

    I so often hear the word, “Poetry” when people discuss Psalms. I am not a fan of that word when discussing the Bible. I replace that word with the word “spiritual”, because it is discussing things that are of the spiritual realm.

    When I hear the word “poetry”, I am reminded of the Folk music from the early 70’s during the hippie days of the Vietnam War era, who were high on LSD. Not a pretty sight. I cringe at that word because of that era. Religious folks dressed in white robes passing out flowers at the airports.

    I think these folks are still around, receding hair line with a long grey pony tail.

    Ed

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  46. Moved from another comment thread.

    Whoever puts their trust in this Jesus alone, “forsaking all others”, for the purpose of being reconciled to the one true God, is saved

    And so, to the real question… Since it has been pointed out repeatedly in the previous threads about Calvinism that the logical extension of Calvinist doctrine posits a god that is a moral monstrosity…Can a Calvinist actually be a Christian by following what many of us believe is not the true concept of God? The similar claim has been made by the Calvinists towards non-Calvinists, but I’d like to know if the non-Calvs will step out into that direction.

    And if someone is not worshiping the one true God, then what exactly are they worshiping? To hold to Christian orthodoxy, the answer has to be something demonic in nature; to claim that they worship an error or a psychological construct gives credence to the claims of atheists.

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  47. Ah, there you are, Eric. Since you quoted me I thought maybe I should respond.

    What any professing Christian has to start with is the identity of the one true God, regardless of the topic. The Bible identifies God as love; all other attributes are what God *has* or *does*, but love is what God *is*. His other attributes, including sovereignty, do not operate in a vacuum, but are governed and bounded by love. Therefore, any God that by definition is not love cannot be the true one.

    I’m leaving out a lot here in the interest of focusing on Calvinism. But if indeed the God of Calvinism is not love but instead exercises raw sovereignty in a moral vacuum, then Calvinism does not have the one true God. It is Satan who exercises sovereignty in a moral vacuum; it is Satan who has no compassion, who cares nothing for justice or mercy, who delights in sending sinners to hell “for his good pleasure”. The real God, in contrast, “has no pleasure in the death of the wicked” and “is not willing that anyone perish but that all come to repentance”.

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  48. “Can a Calvinist actually be a Christian by following what many of us believe is not the true concept of God?”

    I have thought about this tons. And I think there are two different groups of Calvinists….those who deceive on purpose and those who are deceived out of ignorance. 1 Tim 1 actualy speaks to this dilemma. God has much mercy for those deceived out of ignorance.

    If you read that testimony Shannon shared with us way up in the thread, that woman explains almost to a T how I have seen people become so ensnared in it. It is almost like a veil comes over their minds and they read determinism in every passage. It is so hard to shake it once it is ingrained. Many leave the faith over it.

    Those who deceive on purpose might actually believe it after so long but they have an agenda and are usually in ministry. You can tell. It is about garnering followers after themselves. And being right. If you have read about Calvin they remind me of him.

    But I agree with boatrocker concerning what Calvinism really is. Her description is right on. Just look at the resurgence of Calvinism and what is has brought. Many are fanatical and lacking in any real love or compassion. The focus on church discipline, control, etc. And they call it love. It is how satan operates. They call evil good and good evil. That is basically what it boils down to. And I think some really decent people have fallen for it. My heart grieves over it.

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  49. so often hear the word, “Poetry” when people discuss Psalms. I am not a fan of that word when discussing the Bible. I replace that word with the word “spiritual”, because it is discussing things that are of the spiritual realm. ”

    Hee Hee. Ed, forgive me if I use poetry, Ok? Just think “Hebrew” poetry. Manly men slaying giants and gathering wives everywhere he goes.

    NT Wright once said that trying to put poetry into a computer program to get a literal meaning is impossible.

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  50. “I have thought about this tons. And I think there are two different groups of Calvinists….those who deceive on purpose and those who are deceived out of ignorance. 1 Tim 1 actualy speaks to this dilemma. God has much mercy for those deceived out of ignorance.”

    Lydia, this is a perfect explanation. There are those who consider themselves Calvinists, who don’t know what Calvinism is all about, and some of them are content to be that way. We’re not saying that an elderly Dutch grandmother who attended a Dutch Reformed church all her life, loved her family and exhibited good fruits is not a Christian. There are some self-identified Calvinists that have shown good fruits and worshiped the true God IN SPITE OF the doctrines their churches espouse. There are those who believe in Calvinism, but thankfully they don’t live out those chilling doctrines in real life.

    What we are saying is that Calvinism (when taken to its logical conclusions and lived out as Calvin explained) is a recipe for tyranny, persecution, torture and murder, as clearly evidenced by history. These are not good fruits. Also, the god of Calvinism is not the God of the Holy Scriptures, just as the jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses is not the Jesus of the Holy Scriptures.

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  51. Boatrocker wrote:What any professing Christian has to start with is the identity of the one true God, regardless of the topic. The Bible identifies God as love; all other attributes are what God *has* or *does*, but love is what God *is*. His other attributes, including sovereignty, do not operate in a vacuum, but are governed and bounded by love. Therefore, any God that by definition is not love cannot be the true one.

    Yes! It’s essence vs attribute or in grammatical terms, noun vs. adjective. I had a very strong inkling that you would be thinking along these lines. Lots of people I speak with say that it’s just a nuance; if so, it’s the most important nuance in all of theology.

    Lydia brings up a good point about deceivers vs. deceived. It applies to the JW’s and Mormons as well. Most of them are well-meaning people who truly love God as best they can; they’ve simply been deceived in some very egregious ways.

    When it comes to Calvinists, there are obviously some that hold loosely to their doctrine and set it aside when it conflicts with the God=love paradigm. With doctrinarians (of any kind) it becomes difficult to see where they accept the God=love paradigm as the supreme example of God and His essence; their focus shifts towards the attributes.

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  52. “Just think “Hebrew” poetry. Manly men slaying giants and gathering wives everywhere he goes.”

    Haha…sounds like Hansel and Gretal, or Jack and the Bean Stalk!!

    My idea of poetry is “roses are red, violets are blue”.

    Ed

    ________________________________

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  53. Eric, it is this very cognitive dissonance between Calvinist theology and the practical living of the Christian life which has, ironically, led many Calvinists to Universalism (see http://www.fether.net/2011/11/04/calvinism-and-universalism-separated-at-birth/). When one faces this crossroad, one chooses (!) to either embrace nonsense (if it doesn’t make sense, it’s a mystery) or reject reason. But both stem from the core belief that God must choose for us because we are born dead (well, “only mostly dead”).

    But I agree with the issue of knowledge: God holds us responsible for what we can grasp; yet of course no one can beg off with the excuse if they had the ability but were too lazy to try. And where there is responsibility, there must also be choice. Therefore, since we are held responsible for either accepting or rejecting God, we must have the free will to so choose. It violates both love and logic to teach that God withholds free will (because he is apparently intimidated by other free beings) yet holds us guilty for being sinners. It is both insane and evil.

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  54. Sorry, “either embrace nonsense (if it doesn’t make sense, it’s a mystery) or reject reason” is not what I wanted to type. I’m sleepy.

    Let’s make that “either embrace nonsense… or reject truth”. Meaning, one must either accept that God really is more like Molech burning babies in the flames “for his good pleasure”, or Jesus was silly to die for us when God will make everyone love him sooner or later. Or something like that. I have a headache.

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  55. Unbelievable.

    So, we’ve gone from having a discussion about differing theologies to making determinations and judgments about whether or not the “other side” consists of people who are truly saved.

    Nice, guys…real nice.

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  56. So, we’ve gone from having a discussion about differing theologies to making determinations and judgments about whether or not the “other side” consists of people who are truly saved.

    Nice, guys…real nice.

    Don’t even try to act all innocent when you’ve proven repeatedly that you’re more judgmental than anyone you’re criticizing, Brian.

    Go all the way back through your twitter feed and then come explain to us how you’re not a bigot.

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  57. So, we’ve gone from having a discussion about differing theologies to making determinations and judgments about whether or not the “other side” consists of people who are truly saved.

    Nice, guys…real nice.

    I’ve had so many Calvinists tell me I’m an Unbeliever because my doctrine doesn’t match up with their beliefs. Our first meeting on Twitter, you were questioning me about what authority I was submitting to, were you not? What was that all about? Wasn’t that to see if I passed your “true Christian” test? Because if I gave the wrong answer, then what conclusion would you have come to? Be honest, please.

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  58. So, we’ve gone from having a discussion about differing theologies to making determinations and judgments about whether or not the “other side” consists of people who are truly saved.

    Nice, guys…real nice.

    What’s “real nice” is how you burn straw men with such ease. What I said was that ***IF*** your god is NOT love, ***THEN*** you do not worship the one true God. So the question for you is, Is your God love? Can your God be described as ‘love’ while he also delights in sending babies to hell for his good pleasure, since they were born sinners by his decree from eternity past and deserve it, though they never lived a day? That’s a question you personally must answer. And it is thus YOU, not anyone else, who decides whether you worship the one true God of love.

    I hope you get this now.

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  59. boatrocker observes: “It is this very cognitive dissonance between Calvinist theology and the practical living of the Christian life which has, ironically, led many Calvinists to Universalism.”

    Well, I’m still waiting for some Calvinist, or anybody else who believes in eternal conscious torment, to come along and credibly explain away these verses, taken from ESV, (emphasis mine):

    Romans 5:18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for ALL men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for ALL men. (NASB reads “So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life TO all men.”)

    1 Corinthians 15:22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall ALL be made alive

    Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for ALL people (Gk., YLT & NASB “TO all men”),

    Romans 3:22b-24 For there is no distinction: for ALL have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, (Note that, not only have all sinned, but also all are justified)

    Up until now I have thought that the Calvinists, or anybody else arguing for the eternal conscious torment of the damned, must either admit that all are saved or that Scripture contains error. Now, however, Lydia has pointed us to an article (http://tinyurl.com/3wsrqy4) where Piper appears to be saying, in effect, that God talks out of both sides of His mouth. Then again, I don’t accept Piper as being credible here.

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  60. @Gary,

    You might want to start with this: http://www.fether.net/resources/refuting-universalism-a-quick-reference/

    I noticed you left out Mat. 25:46– “Then these will go off into eternal punishment, while the righteous will go off into eternal life.” (see also http://www.fether.net/2007/08/02/2007-08-02-temporary-eternity/ ) What is true for the duration of life is also true for the duration of punishment. These are Jesus’ own words, and you can check the context to see that I have not twisted them. You can also go here to check the Greek: http://bible.fether.net/index.php?next=2639

    Now for your proof-texts:

    Rom. 5:18 — If it means what you say, then Paul contradicted both Jesus and himself when he also said we must be reconciled to God (2 Cor. 5:18-21). Why, if we’ve all already been saved, must we also be reconciled? Either the NT is hoplessly contradictory, or you Universalists have a problem to solve. Now let’s look at that whole passage you cited, not just v. 18–

    Again, the gift is nothing like the failure. In the first case, the verdict pronounced on the one led to condemnation, while in the second, favor came after many blunders and resulted in acquittal. For if death reigned because of one blunder, how much better will be the reign of life through the One— Jesus the Anointed— for those who take hold of God’s overflowing favor and the gift of innocence! Then it follows that just as one blunder brought condemnation to all people, so also one act of justice brought acquittal and life to all people. Through the disobedience of the one person many were brought into a state of failure; likewise, through the obedience of the One, many were brought into a state of innocence.

    See the two things you left out? (1) There is a condition attached to the life of Jesus: taking hold, and (2) Paul also says “many”, not “all”, were brought into a state of innocence.

    Long comment, so I’ll wait for your response before I move on to the next proof-text.

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  61. boatrocker,

    Thank you for your prompt response. My immediate purpose in posting some of the universalist proof texts is to demonstrate that some who are so rock sure certain of their own positions aren’t able to apply the same literalist hermeneutic to these Scriptures as they insist they we apply (albeit anachronistically) to their own proof texts.

    That said, while I have not yet embraced the universalist position, neither do I think we should reject it out of hand. I will not be able to find time for a proper response until probably at least this evening, but I would like to take a stab a arguing the universalist position. For now I will just state that, whatever view is being promoted, every piece of the Scriptural puzzle must be assembled in a manner that is comprehensive (every piece used), consistent (every piece fit into a place where it fits), and coherent (even thought many pieces are shaped the same and can bet fit into multiple places, there must be a complete picture, not chaos, when the puzzle is complete).

    By the way, none of the Biblical literalists have so far even come close to as good a response to my proof texts as what you have presented.

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  62. “And where there is responsibility, there must also be choice. Therefore, since we are held responsible for either accepting or rejecting God, we must have the free will to so choose. It violates both love and logic to teach that God withholds free will (because he is apparently intimidated by other free beings) yet holds us guilty for being sinners. It is both insane and evil.”

    Well said.

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  63. boatrocker,

    Here is a first installment in an attempt to make the case for a version of universalism where all the pieces of the puzzle are assembled in a manner that is comprehensive, consistent and coherent. You are correct to begin with Matthew 25:46. Any argument for any form of universalism must survive this verse. Your blog article addresses the issue whether “punishment” can/should be rendered “rehabilitation,” and whether “eternal” should be rendered “set period of time.” I would like to concentrate on the eternal vs. set period of time issue.

    Taking the verse from ESV, and parenthetically adding Greek notes for “eternal, we get: “And these will go away into eternal (αἰώνιον, aiōnion, adjective, accusative, singular, feminine) punishment, but the righteous into eternal (also αἰώνιον, aiōnion, adjective, accusative, singular, feminine) life.”

    Aiōnion, or αἰώνιος/aiōnios in the nominative (subject) form, is the adjective form of αἰών, aiōn. DBL Greek, as taken from Logos Bible Software, indicates aiōnion (the adjective form) can be translated eternal or since all time. Aiōn (the noun form) can be translated era, universe, world system, long ago, forever, or non-religious people.

    Well, maybe all these different translations for a word that basically just mean “age” are based on some profound understanding of first century common usage, but maybe, just maybe, the translators are actually only inserting their own theological traditions and biases into the “translations.” Young’s Literal gives some support for the possibility of a theologization of the standard translations:

    “And these shall go away to punishment age-during, but the righteous to life age-during.”

    In The Kindgdom New Testament, NT Wright translates “eternal (αἰώνιον, aiōnion) life” as “life of God’s new age” in John 3:16; and as “life of the coming age in John 12:25. Alas, he uses “everlasting punishment” and “everlasting life” in Matthew 25:46.

    On balance, I do not claim to be able to make a definitive case that the Matthew 25 verse absolutely must be translated along the lines of “of the age to come,” as in “punishment of the age to come,” but I submit that the possibility cannot be definitively excluded. The argument for universal salvation, though not in the sense of everybody dying and going to heaven, remains alive and kicking (to my mind) for at least another day.

    I concede that, if punishment is for but an age, so also, it appears, is the life of which Jesus speaks. I am O.K. with that. If the life of the age to come begins now, is consummated at the resurrection of the dead, and lasts but for an age, how much better will it be for those who are His in the age after next!

    I will attempt to get up early enough tomorrow morning to attempt, before going to work, to address the other Scriptures you cite.

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  64. Gary,

    Whether an adjective (“ageless”) or noun (“age”), the meaning is “an unknown length of time”. This itself does not tell us whether the time is limited or not; only context can do that. But we should also note that the custom of the culture was to express emphasis sometimes by repeating the word, e.g. “for ages and ages”, as is the case in the Revelation for the fate of the lost. (I use the Liddell/Scott lexicon.)

    But even if one insists that it MUST refer to a limited time, the problem of Mat. 25:46 still remains for Uni. Can “life” be limited in duration in heaven? Only if the answer is “yes” can punishment also be limited in duration. This is the point I had hoped to get across the first time: that whatever meaning you assign to it, it applies identically to both life and punishment. There is no escaping this, even if you render it “the age to come”; how long is that for “life”?

    So it seems that you took the “limited to the next age” approach: not because the Greek requires it, not because the context requires it, and in opposition to common sense and logic (it renders the promise of eternal life meaningless), but purely because Uni requires it. It is the desired limitation of punishment that is driving your interpretations, not the context, the grammar, or the promise. Tacking on an unknown, purely hypothetical “age after the age” JUST to accomodate limited punishment is, in my opinion, sheer desperation.

    Sorry, but I don’t see how Uni solves this one statement by Jesus.

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  65. boatrocker

    You cite 2 Cor 5:18-21 in opposition to any form of universalism:

    All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV)

    If universalism can be defended, it must take a form that recognizes the urgency of being reconciled to God. It is much better to, in this life, avail oneself of what was accomplished on our behalf on the Cross than to suffer the consequences of our sin–even if the punishment is made to fit the crime as opposed to somehow having to be eternal (as well as conscious and tormenting) to vindicate the glory of what turns out to be an infinitely narcissistic god.

    One argument that is urged against the universalist position is that there would be no urgency to share the gospel. That, however, is akin to supposing people will be inclined to rob banks because they will eventually be set free, once their prison term is served. Well, no, most of us don’t want to spend a single day behind bars. As an attorney, I can assure you that criminals will gladly accept a plea bargain that enables them to avoid prison time on condition of future good behavior. The required good behavior looks to me to be very similar to the repentance Jesus calls us to.

    That, at least, is how I suppose the universalists could argue the matter. More to follow.

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  66. boatrocker,

    This will address Romans 5:15-18 passage, which from ESV, with emphasis added, is:

    15 But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if MANY died through one man’s trespass, MUCH MORE have the grace of God and the free gift by the grace of that one man Jesus Christ abounded for MANY. 16 And the free gift is not like the result of that one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brought justification. 17 For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, MUCH MORE will THOSE WHO RECEIVE the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ. 18 Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for ALL men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for ALL men.

    Who are the many who died through one man’s trespass? All. Who are the many to whom the grace of God and the free gift much more abounded? Consistency would indicate that the answer is “all.” Who are the “much more” who who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness? Verse 18 specifically says “all men.”

    Why have these verses not usually been received as having an internally consistent meaning? The universalists could say it is because of the faulty, or at least unnecessary, translation of the Greek adjective for age in Matthew 25:46. Universalists could, I suppose, charge that the traditional limitations placed on God’s grace effectively shred that piece of the Scriptural puzzle which is set forth in Romans 5:18.

    Still, the universalist position must take into account the reality of Sheol, Hades, Gehenna (but not the Hell of Dante Alighieri and John Milton), Tartarus, the outer darkness, the Lake of Fire, and the bottomless pit.

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  67. boatrocker,

    When you say you would like me to respond further to Mat. 25:46, do you mean with regard to matters raised by you at 3:57 am? If not, what further would you like me to address?

    It will now likely be this evening after work before I come back to this topic. You may or may not see me posting comments in other threads, though not comments that take a lot of time to draft.

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  68. Gary, yes. As I said, “Tacking on an unknown, purely hypothetical “age after the age” JUST to accomodate limited punishment is, in my opinion, sheer desperation.” There is zero support for this in scripture, expressed or implied. And if you reserve the right to invent purely hypothetical “ages” since the lack of them completely defeats your argument, then what point is there in continuing? Can I too pull nonexistent entities from a hat?

    I have a response prepared for your other comments, and I will post them, but first I want to pin you down on how you justify this hypothetical “multiple age” theory. So far, it just looks like a cop-out to me, the way Calvinists cry “Mystery!” when they can’t refute something.

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  69. boatrocker,

    The point I am making is that the Greek adjective usually translated “eternal” can legitimately be translated along the lines of “of and relating to an age.” I would understand that to be an indication the quality of life and the quality of punishment, not an indication of their duration.

    So, yes, we must decide how best to translate the Greek adjective, and by all means look at the context. I think the universalists would say the entirety of Scripture is the context, including the universalist proof texts I threw out somewhere above.

    You say “But even if one insists that it MUST refer to a limited time, the problem of Mat. 25:46 still remains for Uni. Can “life” be limited in duration in heaven? Only if the answer is “yes” can punishment also be limited in duration.” I am having difficulty following that. If you insist that Life in the age to come must last forever, there is no reason punishment could not be something short of forever. Unless, of course, the translators are correct in using “eternal.” So which is it? “Eternal,” or something along the lines of “of the age to come?”

    So, again, I am not saying I can prove the translation of the Matthew verse one way or the other. I do believe there is room for investigation.

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  70. boatrocker, a question:

    Your refer to the expression, ” ‘for ages and ages’, as is the case in the Revelation for the fate of the lost.” Where do you find this? I am aware of this or a similar expression (depending on the translation) being used in reference to “worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name” (Rev 14:11), but is there somewhere the expression is used in reference to ALL the lost?

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  71. Gary,

    Jesus used the very same adjective to describe both life and punishment. This is why you can’t make one everlasting and the other temporary. Otherwise you’d be engaging in the fallacy of “special pleading”. Whatever is true of one in that context, is true of the other, and it is precisely about duration. The words for “life” and “punishment” describe the quality. These are conclusions the context and grammar force us to. But it seems that now you have attempted “special pleading” in place of hypothetical successive ages.

    And it is good that you did so. Had you persisted in a theory of successive ages, I’d have responded thusly:

    Re. 2 Cor. 5:18-21 (the need to be reconciled):

    The position you appear to be arguing— that the purpose of salvation in this life is to essentially avoid serving prison time— merely moves the line in the sand rather than answering the question. If, as you believe, the next life is but another stage in some non-described and hypothetical (dare I say endless?) journey, your view sounds more and more like the working off of one’s karma in successive lifetimes.

    And just as it is inconsistent for believers in karma to urge good behavior (which would interfere with the payment of negative karma and prolong the “prison term”), so also it is inconsistent for believers in universalism to take the urgency of the gospel as shown in the NT as simply a quicker way to rid oneself of sin. And this, in turn, insults the sacrifice of Christ, who apparently didn’t pay enough.

    In your theology, what difference is there between the unbeliever who lives a good, clean life, and the believer who is backslidden and worldly? Why is it that faith, not works, is what keeps us “out of jail”, if one can live a clean life without faith and have little to nothing to owe in terms of a prison sentence, yet have to go anyway? This is identical to the RCC teaching of Purgatory, and it is incompatible with salvation by grace through faith.

    But the new theory which relies on a fallacy is no better. And there is no point in trying to discuss any Biblical topic when the normal rules of grammar and logic are discarded.

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  72. Gary, re. your second question (“I am aware of this or a similar expression (depending on the translation) being used in reference to “worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name” (Rev 14:11), but is there somewhere the expression is used in reference to ALL the lost”)–

    This was a very minor point in my comment. The reason I even mentioned it was that it was a common way to convey the idea of eternal or everlasting. Even today we say things like “This debate just went on and on”. That’s all I was saying.

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  73. Ok, so I have a question about this tweet. Notice how Michael responds to CON and says, “your love for Christ and his elect.” I’ve seen that before from others. So Calvinists only love the elect?

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  74. Julie Anne,

    It is very interesting that you raise the question of election à la John Calvin just when Kelly is commenting on last January’s article on psychopathic/sociopathic pastors. To understand election, and all else having to do with Reformed theology, it is necessary to understand the man John Calvin. If even a fraction of what Calvin’s detractors have written about him is true (see e.g. The Right to Heresy by Stefan Zweig, http://www.gospeltruth.net/heresy/heresy_intro.htm), the man John Calvin was every bit a psychopath. He demanded and achieved absolute power over the lives and consciences of every citizen of Geneva, accomplishing even the judicial murder, first of Miguel Servetus, and then of his political opponents.

    I am convinced that his small “g” god was and is nothing more than a projection of John Calvin’s psychopathic soul. Just as John Calvin dominated those who followed him, and just as he murdered or otherwise destroyed those who were of no use to him, so also his god, in the name of grace, sovereignly dominates the so-called elect–while consigning those who do not serve his narcissistic, psychopathic/sociopathic purposes to eternal conscious torment.

    Whether John Calvin was or was not actually demonized, I cannot say. However, his god looks every bit like Satan, and not at all like Love. Unfortunately, so much of even non-Reformed “church” has come to emulate the controlling, extremist practices of the Geneva church of John Calvin.

    I am so pleased that you just posted Brenda’s article on the largely misogynistic, but also misanthropic, extremism that is practiced in wide swaths of evangelical “Christianity”:

    https://spiritualsoundingboard.com/2013/09/23/can-our-faith-and-love-co-exist-with-extremism/

    And also:

    http://brendafindingelysium.blogspot.com/2013/09/extremism-defined.html

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  75. What do you know, I was wondering why I hadn’t seen any of Brian Thornton’s tweets in my twitter feed:

    blocked

    He blocked me. And I don’t remember any issues between us except for the fact that we had this respectable debate here. Another one to add to the list.

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  76. Julie Anne,

    I fear I must disagree with you this time. I do not consider Brian to have been at all respectful. While he avoided the persistent personal attacks of which B4B was guilty, he only wanted to be heard. He vomited scripture without compassion. He wouldn’t answer questions. He wouldn’t engage in an actual conversation. Nothing anybody else had to say was of any value to Brian. It was all about him.

    The Calvinist/Reformed types can no longer burn their enemies at the stake like John Calvin did, but they will do everything else they can to impose their views. They can only win if they can control the conversation. They cannot afford to open their own blogs to to anybody who would challenge their ideas. Every time you get blocked from a Twitter feed it is sure evidence of the bankruptcy of their views. It is an admission of their defeat.

    And what’s this business about being a spy? Is Brian admitting he’s some sort of a stalker? Probably not, but Is he attempting to convey some sort of subliminal message that we had better be careful, that he, Brian, is watching?

    Oh, and finally, notice the woman in Brian’s picture, firmly relegated to the background, to the subordinate position, between Brian and a brick wall.

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  77. Gary, when I wrote that, I was thinking that he and I personally did not have a debate with each other wherein he then left abruptly. But, I think your overall assessment is pretty accurate. His original behavior with me on Twitter, the passive aggressive way questions were avoided, etc, yes, you are right, it lacked respect.

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  78. Gary – Julie Anne

    Agreed – Brian’s original Twitter comments were NOT nice.
    And he was NOT nice to me – BooHoo 😦

    He refused to post some of my comments on his site.
    I was hoping to get into a conversation with the folks there.

    He was probably just “Protecting” the other sheep.
    Can’t have the sheeple looking at different opinions now – can you?

    Don’t know about Brian – But I sure learned a lot from this thread.

    Thank you Jesus

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  79. Hannah,
    I hope you came over here:

    You had said:
    Hmmmm….well if there is no one there to preach the Word says they are without excuse… Romans 1 says he will reveal Himself to them…

    My response:
    Romans 10:13-15

    King James Version (KJV)

    13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

    14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?

    15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!

    Ed

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  80. Pingback: It’s Calvinism Free-For-All: Off the Top of Your Head, Part 2 | Spiritual Sounding Board

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